Nov 3, 2006

Working on this Milton Glaser/Paula Scher article ('s not quite done yet) has been more difficult than I thought it would be. That's not a bad thing, though, because it's raising a lot of interesting issues about matters that I've addressed on this weblog before, namely the similaritites between writing and design and the need for practitioners of one to be versed in the other.

During the interview with Paula, she stated repeatedly that "design is planning". In the case of a designer (as such) this means organizing graphic elements (type, color, shapes, etc) in such a way that they visually communicate a message in a given space and medium. Writing is no different. I have a given set of elements (in this case my words and the transcriptions) and I have to organize them in a way that says what I want to say, fits with the publication for which I'm writing, and speaks on some level to their target demographic. This, too, is design.

It ties right in to the "six word story" posts I put up a few weeks ago, an idea that was taken to sublime levels by Wired (thanks to Tony and Russ for the tip).

The more work I do the more I realize that I have essentially two jobs: translator and engineer. First I'm taking a body of thoughts and ideas and rendering them into something meaningful, and then I'm building a structure to contain them. A weakness in either half of that endeavor -- and over the years there have been plenty -- means the other half is inherently less potent than it could and should be. The x-factor in that process is creativity.
According to Tracy Hall's Amazing Inkblot Generator, "Neal Shaffer" looks like this:
Take from this what you far I've got nothing.


Bryan said...

The "planning and engineer" debate seems a lot like the same battle we're fighting on this documentary. But instead of one article, we have to fill 90 minutes of documentary with dozens of interviews and have it all make sense.

It's a struggle to write the thesis first and then go out and get people to say what you need them to to fill in your narrative...

But, we're being paid handsomely to be planners and engineers, so it all works out in the end....

Bryan said...

are you going to have anything to say about the Maryland elections before the election?